Eighteen months after winning the world title in the marathon, Ruth Chepngetich cemented her status as an all-time great for half the distance, smashing the world record* at the N Kolay Istanbul Half Marathon, a World Athletics Elite Label road race, with 1:04:02.
It was one of the most competitive fields ever assembled for a half marathon, with marathon world record-holder Brigid Kosgei, two-time world 5000m champion Hellen Obiri and world half marathon medallists Yalemzerf Yehualaw and Melat Kejeta also in the line-up.
But Chepngetich’s victory was comfortable, breaking away from the last of her opponents, Yehualaw, with about three kilometres to go before going on to win by 38 seconds.
She covered the first 5km in 15:07, then passed through 10km in 30:21, a personal best for the distance. She maintained that pace, covering the next two 5km segments in 15:09 and 15:13, and crossed the line in 1:04:02.
“Istanbul is my city, I love running here,” said Chepngetich, who had previously won two editions of the Istanbul Half Marathon and two editions of the Istanbul Marahon. “The world record is something I have been dreaming about for some time and I am so happy to do it on the streets of Istanbul. I am really happy for this amazing result.”
She becomes just the second athlete in history to win a world marathon title and break a half marathon world record, following in the footsteps of legendary Norwegian distance runner Grete Waitz.
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure